Two great loves that the French and I share are dogs and good food. The former holds such a precious and integral place in my life that I wish Pittsburgh (and the U.S. in general) had a more welcoming attitude toward our canine families.
Don’t get me wrong – we Americans love our pooches. Otherwise, how would you account for the success of premium organic dog food and treats, expensive and exclusive doggy salons, lines of high-end apparel and toys? How would you explain the approximately $61 billion that we spend on our pets a year in this country alone?
My dogs are my children. I feed them, play with them, lavish them with baisers and put them to bed at night. They are eternal toddlers who rely on me for their well-being and happiness, as I rely on them for mine.
I have two dogs – a Border Terrier named Ozzie and a Puggle named Gaby. The summer months are filled with adventure for us – we frequent the city’s many gorgeous parks, walk under canopies of trees through different area neighborhoods, play in the backyard. They have a wading pool – a plastic purple kiddie pool that we splash around in on the back porch – and at the end of the summer some of the local pools allow dogs to dive in at the end of the season, before the water is drained. We’ve taken them to Pup Nights at PNC Park, where they can join other dog-fans in a designated area and enjoy a Bucs game.
When Old Man Winter arrives in the Burgh each year, he plants his feet and hunkers down for a nice long visit. Our walks become shorter and less frequent. More trips to doggie daycare ensue, two of our favorites being K-9 Kingdom in Wexford and The Dog Stop on Washington Blvd. But, the places you can take a dog indoors are few and far between.
Not so in France. Most restaurants welcome dogs (albeit well-behaved ones) – they can sit on the floor by your table or curl up in a lap or nearby chair. Hotels are much more accepting of canine travel companions – one that I would like to check out is Hostellerie La Farandole on the Cote d’Azur (my wildly active fantasy life, at it again…) You may not be able to take your pup into the Louvre, but some attractions will allow your dog to join you – Tuileries Garden, Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin du Palais Royal to name a few.
Some neighborhoods in the ‘Burgh are becoming increasingly dog-friendly, specifically Shadyside. Many of the cafes and shops open their doors to dogs, and the neighborhood hosts several events benefiting animal welfare, including the annual Bark Shadyside Pup Walk. Check out Bark Shadyside! for more details on doggie-friendly establishments and events.
Right now my fur-babies and I are happy – tails are definitely wagging since the weather has broken and sunny skies are (sometimes) here again. Spring can be a rainy season and we do have raincoats, but we don’t like them very much…
We have several months of four-legged fun ahead of us, until the cold freeze returns. But maybe one day we’ll escape the brutal Pittsburgh winter and take that trip across the pond. We’ll enjoy a hot, frothy cappuccino as we gaze out a cafe window at the City of Light, seen through a curtain of softly falling snow.